73 expert tips to finding your perfect wedding dress
Your ultimate collection of wedding dress tips, as told by the experts
Having the wedding of your dreams starts with two things – finding your partner for life, and the perfect gown for your special day. You've got the partner-for-life secured, so all that's left is to delve into the bridal fashion world and find the dress to complete your fairytale celebration.
Brides today are blessed with the prosperity of wedding dress options they can choose from, depending on their styles, silhouettes, and budgets. But having this abundance of options can also make the decision making harder.
With so many dresses to choose from, it might take longer for you to find "The One." To help brides-to-be like you overcome this, we've asked wedding dress designers and experts for their tips on finding the perfect wedding dress. From boutique-hopping hacks to make your dress shopping easier to tips on enjoying your wedding planning duties, you'll find everything to make your ceremony of love the most memorable chapter of your life.
1. Your wedding day should be about you as a couple.
I often find my brides getting overwhelmed with all the details of planning and the decisions to be made. It breaks my heart when I see my brides stressed out while shopping for a dress. Just stay focused on the important things when planning your wedding—you're marrying the love of your life! It should be a fun, exciting experience, so try not to let anxiety overshadow that.
- Kelly Faetanini
2. Start early and shop with an open mind.
This gives you the best opportunities to secure exactly what you want. But even if you're working on a short time frame, most designers have rush options and best-selling styles that are immediately available. You can also consider shopping off-the-rack. Just keep an open mind and the right dress will find you!
3. Be selective of your guests and do some research.
Stay true to yourself and your style over everything else. Understanding what you want out of your day will ensure that your personality and style shine through.
When it comes to your bridal appointment, be selective with who you bring. This gives you space and time to make the right choices.
Now, what to wear for your bridal appointment? Nude underwear is essential. If you're going to wear heels on your day, take them too. This saves time trying on a store pair which may not be your size. Research brands and look online before making bookings at bridal studios. Make appointments only at places whose vibes and price range suit you. Finally, don't try to fit too much into one day - take your time.
4. Build a good rapport with the boutique you visit.
You'll be visiting them a few times before you collect your dress, and your consultant is the person who will hold your hand throughout your journey.
If your wedding is in the summer and your theme is ethereal/romantic, you may want a soft flowy dress like McKenzie or a soft slinky dress like Ginger. You may visit a shop to try a particular style but may find something different that suits you better. Maybe classic dresses like Alana or Emerson.
Your consultant will guide you and help you find the dress that will work for your particular shape and will help you accessorize to complete the look that you want.
5. Think of your wedding attire as a fancier version of your everyday self!
Don’t feel pressured to wear anything too traditional, expected, or too trendy. You want to feel confident and comfortable. You need to look and feel your best as that will translate to your wedding photos. For us, there’s no higher compliment than when a bride says, “This is so me."
- Carol Hannah Whitfield
6. Stay faithful to your essence and don’t give up comfort.
One of the things that our stylists always try to convey is: How do you define your style? What do you feel comfortable with day-to-day? These are questions that help clarify the ideas that brides have in mind.
For us, each of the brides become our "sister and friend." We try to make our relationship be based on trust on both sides. It’s important you see and touch the fabrics, as well as feel the dress in the tests. We work for each of our brides personally. The magic lies in being able to accompany them in the choice.
7. Never settle on a wedding dress!
Every bride must find her dream dress, one that makes her feel beautiful and special. Our specialty is to create bespoke dresses with meticulous design, uncompromising quality tailored to the bride’s body & soul, giving each bride the chance to express & fulfil her dream.
8. Consider the vision you want to create.
Do you want to be a modern and contemporary bride? Make your classic vision of a wedding come true? Stick to a traditional theme? Make your wedding a day full of romance? Or something red-carpet-worthy?
Understanding the vision is the first step to finding your dream gown. Then comes identifying the perfect silhouette to enhance your figure. Working with a good stylist helps. They can work with you through fabrics and silhouettes, making your vision come together.
- Caroline Castigliano
9. Consider your own point of view and "dress crush."
I still meet too many brides who choose a dress to make their mother happy or because they are influenced by their friends. This is not a smart choice. You shouldn't be influenced by the designer either.
Choosing a dress is a real private and personal story. In everyday life, we can be influenced with our choice of a coat or a jacket, and it's ok if we make a mistake. But for a wedding dress, we can't. During a fitting session, I always watch the girl's eyes. It is only when I can see sparkles inside that I know that's the one.
10. Try on everything.
For the lovely brides-to-be looking for their perfect wedding dress, my advice is to try on everything. Even those styles that you’re not drawn to on the hanger. You might be surprised with what you end up loving!
11. Be true to yourself.
We always say at Brilliant Bridal that choosing a dress is all about what fits your personality, not your body type. What's important is finding a gown that expresses who you are as a bride.
This is also true for all aspects of your wedding. Be sure to make decisions based on what you and your partner want, not what others tell you you should have. Always remember, it is YOUR day.
- Taylor K.
12. Try match your groom, but don't obsess over it.
My brides always ask me about matching their grooms' shirt color with their wedding gown. But that's impossible because of the difference in fabrics. Wedding gowns are usually polyester or silk, while men's shirts are usually cotton.
What I suggest to my brides and grooms is to try and get them matching as close as possible. But don't obsess about it - you will never see the difference in photos, anyways.
13. Pay attention to your feelings!
Shopping for the dress is such an exciting part of wedding planning. It can be easy to get caught up in the beauty and aesthetics of it all. We truly believe that anyone can wear anything as long as they feel amazing in it! Confidence translates into beauty, so if you feel good, you'll look beautiful too!
14. Get into virtual appointments.
If you're unsure whether or not you should do a virtual appointment with someone, ask yourself: what do I want to get out of the virtual appointment? Communicate this with the vendor beforehand so that you can set some expectations. Also, ask about fees and how you can involve those you love in the call.
- Jennifer Dang and Elisabeth & Beau Uptown Bridal
15. Go into everything with an open mind.
Be prepared to fall in love with something you thought you'd never wear because that's what happens to all of us. I, myself, swore I would wear the biggest ball gown that could fit through a doorway, and when I tried it on, it wasn't me AT ALL. I ended up wearing a beautiful full lace, fitted trumpet gown.
Everything looks different in person than it does on Pinterest. While it is nice to flip through the beautiful weddings and gowns you see in photos, each bride/groom is unique. You don't need to follow anyone's idea of what a wedding should be, except your own. Do your day the way you and your fiancé want to have it. Years down the line, what you'll remember is the feeling and how it was a celebration of your love for each other.
If you try on the first dress and love it, say YES! If you love the first venue you see, save yourself the trouble of visiting 10 more venues, and pick it right away. The longer you take to plan your wedding, the more overthinking and second-guessing will happen, which just leads to more stress. Trust your gut, keep it fun, and take time to enjoy the day. It goes by fast!
- Samantha Hallaran
16. For a custom-made wedding dress - research.
Check out different dress styles, necklines, and laces from Pinterest or simply explore ‘real weddings’ on bridal directories to get inspired. The more research you do, the easier and more fun the designing and making process will be for you.
Don’t be afraid to ask your designer for help with refining your ideas. Give them as much detail and information as possible - from your chosen color palette, wedding theme, floral arrangements, and venue. All of this will allow your designer to bring your vision to life and ensure your bespoke gown compliments you and your wedding day perfectly!
- Rajat Tabeck
17. Stay true to your style.
Find a designer who understands what you want and creates dresses that suit your personality. Don't let others pigeonhole you into a "bridal look." There isn't a one-look-fits-all anymore. At Cathleen Jia, we love seeing our brides embrace their unique taste and incorporating it into their day.
Also, don't get obsessed over that perfect Pinterest wedding. They are great for inspiration, but every couple is different. We all have different tastes, budget, weather, time frame, so you just do you!
18. Focus on quality fabrics.
When it comes to choosing the perfect wedding dress, the bride should choose the best quality dress she can afford. Classic styles in good quality fabrics will look elegant and always stand the test of time. If you're on a budget, there are lots of ex-display designer dresses at very reasonable prices. Leave out extras like favors and photo booths and treat yourself to a stunning dress.
- Joyce Young
19. Choose a good reputable boutique.
Choose boutiques that have a good reputation, great customer service, and a modern yet timeless selection of gowns that you love. It's also important to have a budget in mind, even if you're still undecided with your style. This helps you and the consultant make the most of the appointment trying gowns that don't suit you and your price range.
Accessories can make a big difference too. Try a veil and a beautiful headpiece. They can really change the whole look. Just remember to keep it elegant and complementary to your gown. Finally, when you find the one, go for it! The boutique will take care of the rest.
- Morgan-Davies Bridal
I know it is a cliché, but your wedding day is one of the most important (and expensive!) days in your life. It will be the day when you are surrounded by the most people you love. It's a moment of celebration and happiness, so make sure you enjoy every minute of it. Things may not go exactly as planned, so embrace that fact. When it comes down to the dress you want, make sure you are comfortable so you look the most radiant on your special day.
- James Waddington
21. You don’t have to break the bank.
Check out online sites such as eBay and Etsy and High Street stores such as Monsoon, Whistles, and John Lewis for bridal bargains.
Just make sure to measure yourself correctly and check against the designer’s size chart if you’re purchasing your dress online. Most importantly, ensure that the retailer offers a full refund if the gown isn’t quite right. You don't have to break the bank to look like a million dollars on your wedding day.
- Shelley & Kirstie
22. Be yourself.
We pioneer brides and grooms being the best version of themselves. Whether you want to be the bride who wears the trousers, showcase all your tattoos, have pink hair, ditch the cake, forget the tradition. Do what you want!
23. Ask your friends for recommendations.
Ask your married friends for recommendations of good bridal shops and designers. It is important to enjoy the experience as this is where the build-up of the excitement for your wedding starts.
- Katherine Radford
24. Research in advance.
This can start on the internet to find a look and style that best suits you and your wedding. Research price points for the particular style of dress you are after. Don't waste time looking at dresses you can't afford. I always encourage my brides to create a Pinterest board when researching dresses.
Once you have a look/style in mind, book at least three bridal shop appointments to see what works for you. I don't encourage brides to try on too many as this can become overwhelming and confusing.
Remember to remain true to yourself and allow yourself as much time as possible to make the right decisions regarding your dress. Once you've decided, allow up to 6-9 months to order your wedding dress. This needs to be factored in your timeline when planning your wedding.
25. Forget all the preconceptions.
Forget all the preconceptions - a wedding dress is simply what is right for each individual. So many brides wear what they think they should be wearing rather than what is right for their venue, plans on the day, or what perfectly reflects their personality. Find a designer that can create a bespoke dress so that every detail makes you look your absolute, confident best.
26. Bring one or two trusted friends for your appointment.
Too many opinions are confusing. Plus, you'll have an experienced consultant to help you choose your dress, whose only wish is to make you a beautiful and confident bride.
27. It is YOUR day - don't worry about other opinions.
Wear what makes you feel your best self. For brides, choose a designer who understands you and your style. Remember, no dress can make you someone you are not. A good dress aims to bring out your unique beauty and personality.
28. Don't let other people influence your wedding plans.
But always keep an open mind for suggestions, and always prepare ahead of time.
Don't let other voices take you down a path you don't like. Your wedding dress should be an extension of your style, only taken a bit further. Despite having the best intentions, other people might try to get you to buy a dress that ultimately isn't "you." Listen to your style. The happiest brides are sometimes the ones that come in by themselves for their first appointment!
Always be open to all shapes and cuts. You might have your heart set on a dress or style, but when you try it on, it might not work for you. Be prepared to try on as many different types of dresses, especially early on. When you find out what works best for your style and body shape, make sure you get your stylist to focus on it!
Lastly, give yourself plenty of time! Don't schedule your dress pickup at the boutique until just a couple of months before the wedding. Many dresses, like ours, are handmade and need six months to make sure they are completely fitted to you perfectly.
29. The style of the dress should fit your silhouette.
Research your bridal designers and boutiques before you begin visiting boutiques or designers. The look you want to create should match the designer's style. For example, if you want to create a boho look, try to look for designers that design boho wedding dresses.
The wedding dress budget should match the designer or boutique prices. Don't go to a shop if it's out of your budget. It could be disheartening to find the dress of your dreams, only to know you can't afford it.
When you've got your options laid out for you, remember to consider that the style of the dress should suit your body shape. A good starter when you are hunting for your wedding dress is to think of your favorite top or dress and find designs that are similar to it.
30. Don't have your dress arrive too far in advance.
Nothing is as important as the bride feeling her best on her wedding day. We always suggest our brides order her dress 4 months before the wedding. Your measurements won't change by the time the dress arrives.
31. Find a designer who you think could be a friend.
Find a designer who you think could be a friend, and you've found the right one for you. When you get on well, you can be honest with each other about your likes and dislikes and how the design is progressing. You will spend a lot of time with each other too, so you need to be enjoying each other’s company!
- Charlotte Wilden
32. Choose a dress that speaks your style and personality.
There are a few things we recommend doing. First, go with the dress that makes you feel (not look, but feel) the most beautiful. This way, you'll feel confident and comfortable.
If that doesn't help, then think about practicality. Is the dress too much for a small backyard wedding? Is the dress too thick for a hot summer beach wedding? Is the dress too big and poofy for you to dance all night long in?
The very last and most important tip is to go about your day and notice which gown comes across your mind the most. That one dress which you can't seem to get out of your head is most likely the gown that you will (or should) be walking down the aisle in!
33. Find a gown that you can shake a leg in!
We at Designer Loft are big fans of our brides being easily able to navigate the room and dance comfortably with her groom on this festive occasion. Put the gown on, close your eyes, and imagine dancing with your betrothed in that garment. We are also big fans of flowy chiffon, organza, detachable skirts, over skirts - all dress types where our brides can move freely! After all, you must look AND feel great in your dress.
- Liz Sellassie
34. Your wedding day look should be a reflection of who you are.
Take in how much love is in the room. Enjoy the simple moments of the day. Remember, this is the celebration of you and your partners' journey together. Your true beauty on your wedding day isn't just in what you wear, but how your wedding dress makes you feel like a bride.
- Alex Parina
35. Try wedding gowns at least 12 months before your wedding date.
This will allow you ample time to find your dream gown. It also ensures that you will have an enjoyable and memorable experience during your planning and wedding stages.
- Bernadette Pimenta
36. Have an open mind when trying on dresses.
You should look at photos of what you like on Pinterest. Then research boutiques in your area that carry the designers or looks you like.
When setting up your appointment, provide as much info on what you’re leaning towards and some details about your wedding such as venue, theme, and how you’d like to look and feel on your big day. This will help your stylist prepare for your visit.
Try on the styles you want but stay open-minded if your stylist chooses something that you hadn’t considered. You may be surprised and fall in love with a gown you hadn’t thought of.
With a little upfront research and preparation, wedding dress shopping can be a wonderful, stress-free experience. By doing your research and connecting with the boutique in advance, you are increasing the possibility of finding exactly what you want at your first appointment!
37. It's all about the brand, the designer, and your style.
Go for a designer who understands your inspiration, aesthetic, and personal style. It's so important to wear something that expresses your personality and makes you feel like your most authentic self.
Lastly, don't worry too much about what others think! If you feel confident in your gown/suit, you're in your element. The design that you don’t want to take off, or the one you think about long after your fitting, is the one for your wedding day!
38. Weave your soul, personalities, and love into your celebration.
I recommend taking a moment to focus on what this day is really about. Embrace your personalities as a couple and figure out the feeling for your celebration. Stay true to this vision and share your thoughts and wishes with your dress designer. Inspired by you, your designer will tailor a bespoke project with you, handcrafting you a one-of-a-kind wedding gown.
39. A bespoke dress is a collaboration between bride and designer.
Having a bespoke wedding dress made is a collaboration between the bride and the designer. You will spend quite a few months together making decisions and creating your dream dress, so you must get along well.
- Susie Grist
40. Don't sweat the little things.
When you're picking out your dream dress, keep an open mind, and try on different silhouettes and styles. Don't limit yourself with your preferred style and size. Try everything and have fun with it!
Don't sweat the small stuff because on your big day, your only focus would be your partner and nothing else. Remember to enjoy your wedding planning journey instead of stressing every decision!
41. Do some research on the designer.
This is to ensure he/she has the right skills and experience to create your dream dress while matching the aesthetic with your style.
One of the most important elements of working with a bridal designer for a unique custom bridal gown is the design experience. You should feel comfortable working with the designer throughout the whole creative process and trust in his/her expertise in fit, shape, and style. The designer can guide you in finding the right style that accentuates your features to make you feel and look your absolute best.
Comfort is key. Many brides forget that they will be wearing their gown for an entire day. The ideal dress should feel as good as it looks. The breathability of fabric and construction is just as important as the design of the dress.
42. Hone in on what’s important for you and set priorities.
Speaking as an accessory designer for brides, I believe brides can personalize their look with their accessory choice. You also have to understand that wedding day fashion isn’t dictated by a place. It’s about embodying your best vision of yourself on your wedding day. Stay true to yourself and your vision, embrace what’s important to you, and don’t concern yourself with the rest.
Great bridal style is as much about the inside as the outside. It’s all about a look that embodies the emotion of the day, which is very personal to each individual.
43. Don’t be afraid to make a decision.
When shopping for a wedding dress, having a general idea of what you want helps with the initial search. However, being open-minded to suggestions from your stylist or family member(s) may lead to a surprising turn of events.
And if it does surprise you, don’t be afraid to lock it in! Think of it like finding your man. There are billions out there, but when you find one you fall in love with, just go for it!
- Patricia Nevil
44. Finding the perfect dress starts with being open-minded.
Someone once said that every little girl has a dream of what their wedding dress will look like! And if that is you, go after that look.
But be open-minded to the other styles as well. Your last choice of wedding dress might be the one you don't want to take off, making you feel like you are the most beautiful bride in the world.
- David Ramcharan
45. Go into your wedding dress journey with a positive mindset.
You will find ‘the one’ quicker than you think! Most brides find their dress at the very first shop. This happens more often when you research the right boutique and work with professional stylists.
46. Have fun!
After all the time, effort, and money, it is a choice to have fun! So make it happen.
When picking out a gown, each dress will pull out a different part of who you are. Try to get an initial fit of a gown so it will be tailored to fit you correctly.
Think about which part of you is coming out with the gown. Is it your fun flirty side? Is it your soft romantic side? Is it your sexy side? Your classic nature? Each gown brings out a different aspect of your personality. We, as stores, are just trying to figure out which girl is coming to the party. Never lose sight of how you envisioned your wedding to be. They are all within you.
- Only the Best Bridal Couture
47. We Suggest Being Open-Minded.
Don’t fixate on a particular style or dress designer without trying on various gowns. You may be surprised how great you look in a form-fitting gown. Or maybe you love the way you look in that sparkly princess ball gown.
You only get to wear one, so make sure you love it. Don’t let anyone else influence your dress decision. At the end of the day, you’re the one wearing it and will be remembering it forever.
- The Curvy Bride
48. Be open to different designs or silhouettes.
A lot of times, brides discover gowns that surprise them and turn out to be "the one" when they try something new and different.
49. Stay optimistic and don't be discouraged.
Sometimes you don't fall in love with the gown you thought you'd like, and vice versa. You haven't tried on bridal gowns before, so don't be upset or nervous if you fall in love with a gown that isn't anything you thought you would love.
- Angel Rivera
50. Don't overwhelm yourself in the process.
My recommendation is for you to vet 2-3 bridal salons in your area and engage with the one that speaks to your needs the most.
Brides do themselves a disservice by visiting more than 4 salons. This only overwhelms them and causes them to lose their initial vision.
You can check out this video guide to learn more about the journey of finding the perfect wedding dress.
51. Don’t confuse looking good and feeling good in a dress!
The idea of your dream dress and what best suits your body shape might be two completely different things. Your wedding dress designer should work with you to bring these two elements together: finding a dress you love that you look amazing in.
55. Consider a bespoke design.
This way, you can have exactly what you would like without compromising for your big day. A designer will tailor the look to your figure perfectly and will take your preferred style into account. You can combine your favorite elements into one unique design, which will disguise your least favorite bits and flatter your favorites!
- Erica Stacey
56. Be genuine and stay true to your style.
Go beyond fashion trends or wedding traditions that don't suit your heart. Always get a unique dress, made exclusively for the bride, made to measure. You and your stylist can work on selecting the best fabrics, embroidery details, silhouettes, and colors that will suit you and your wedding.
- Romina Fochesatto
57. Speak to a seamstress before committing to a dress.
If you're looking to make bespoke changes such as adding sleeves or creating a lace-up back, consult a seamstress first for expert tips.
As a bridal seamstress, we get lots of brides bringing their dresses to us, wanting lots of changes that have been promised by bridal boutiques when they bought the dress. While bespoke changes are amazing at creating a personal touch, sometimes they may not turn out as expected or more expensive than anticipated.
Speak to a seamstress first - better to be safe than sorry!
- Abigail Westrup Bridal
58. Think of the bigger picture.
Don't be afraid to try different styles. Remember, "the one" is the one that makes you feel beautiful and the best version of you.
60. Don't forget to include alterations when budgeting.
Even a custom wedding dress or suit will need alterations or tailoring once it is received. Alterations are not usually included in the cost, which averages from $350 - $850 for a full set on a suit or dress.
I recommend consulting an alterations specialist as part of your shopping process. They can advise you on budgeting for alterations and what styles will work for your figure.
- Susan Ruddle
61. Have an ensemble that’s as unique as you and your marriage.
Whether you’ve got a dozen ideas or you’ve always known exactly what you want to wear, come to your designer with anything that inspires you. You’ll be amazed by how your vision is transformed and amplified in the hands of an expert. You’ll have a true one-of-a-kind look to wear, and maybe even wear again for other special occasions!
Plus, when a piece is custom fit to you, you don’t have to pay separately to have it altered.
- Marianne Faulkner
62. Do not lose sight of why you are having the wedding.
During the planning stage, couples get so bogged down in the stress and accommodating everyone else. In the end, they forget the main point of their wedding - to celebrate their unique love.
That translates directly to even the wedding dress. I have had brides come in worried about the type of dress they plan on wearing. Will it be formal enough? Will it match with the venue? Does it look like a wedding dress?
Don't fit yourself into a dress - find a dress that fits you. At the end of the day, you want your wedding day to be a celebration of love, not anyone else's. Don't be afraid of wearing any color, or non-trendy silhouettes, as long as it is what you want to celebrate your love in.
- Connie Tao
63. Removable pieces are ideal.
This way, you can get more variety of photos and you get everything you want. It's like getting your cake and eating it too. If you can't decide between a ball gown or a fitted dress, why not both with a removable ball gown skirt?
- Desireé Marie
64. Do your research before you go shopping for your gown.
All bridal boutiques are different, and they stock different designers at different price points. Before you book an appointment, make sure you've checked out their website and social media to make sure that their style and feel are what you are looking for.
- Chameleon Bride
65. Know who your designer is.
Spend plenty of time doing your research. Look at the bridal designers who are out there and spend time looking at their work. Just because they are well known, it doesn’t mean that they have the right style that suits you. There are many new bridal designers out there, so choose well.
Make sure that you research their past brides, the girls who have bought their dresses from the designer. Look at the real wedding pictures. This will help you get a better understanding of how the dresses look on a real bride rather than a model on a photoshoot. They even might inspire your own dress.
Speak directly to the designer. It's essential to build a good relationship with them and their team. Be open and honest with them about your expectations. They'll listen, and the more they know, the better the design will be. Listen to their ideas - they'll know what works. They will want to help and will be excited to make the perfect dress for you.
- Elena Ferrara
66. Think about what you would feel most comfortable in.
Family members and friends always have their opinions, and sometimes, it's hard to separate that from your thoughts. I think it's best to bring just a couple of good friends to the wedding dress consultation instead of a whole entourage. That way, you won't feel too pressured by others' opinions. The best scenario when wearing a wedding dress is that you feel completely the best, most gorgeous version of yourself.
- Chrissy Wai-Ching
67. Be flexible and open-minded.
Remembering what’s at the essence of a wedding—love, commitment, and relationship—will keep you balanced. When choosing your dress, try on styles that might not be exactly what you have in mind. You never know what style will look great and make you feel even better.